For my weekly quiet time this week, I will blog about Psalm 92 and its interpreters. Psalm 92 is a Psalm for the Sabbath day.
is scholarly debate about whether Psalm 92 was originally written as a
Psalm for the Sabbath, or was later applied to the Sabbath. In favor of the former view, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, and the name YHWH appears in Psalm 92 seven times (Jewish Study Bible).
Moreover, the Sabbath is related to creation in Genesis 2:1-3, and
Nahum Sarna believes that there are creation themes in Psalm 92, such as
God's defeat of chaos. In favor of the latter view, the Sabbath is not
explicitly mentioned in Psalm 92, which appears to be a standard Psalm
about God's defeat of the wicked and vindication of the righteous.
Marvin Tate refers to the view that Psalm 92 was originally a Psalm of
thanksgiving by the king after God had delivered him in battle, and it
was later applied to the Sabbath.
I do not know whether Psalm 92
was originally composed for the Sabbath or not. But Psalm 92 does seem
fitting for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is about rest. And what is more restful than not having to worry about wicked oppressors?
Not surprisingly, there are Jewish interpreters (Rashi and Babylonian
Talmud Rosh Hoshanah 31a) that interpret the Psalm
eschatologically----as God bringing in a time of rest and peace at the
end of days.
But there have been other proposed settings for Psalm 92. There
is one rabbinic view that Psalm 92 was spoken by Adam on the very first
Sabbath day. In the Midrash on the Psalms, there is a story about God
relenting from destroying Adam in Gehenna because the Sabbath was
approaching, even though Adam had sinned against God, and Adam spends
the Sabbath in a state of happiness because God has spared his life.
(You'd think that Judaism regarded the Sabbath as an ordinance for all
people----Jew and Gentile----because it maintained that Adam kept the
Sabbath, but there is also a view in the Midrash on the Psalms that the
Sabbath was God's special gift for Israel alone.) Charles Spurgeon
critiques the idea that Psalm 92 was by Adam because the Psalm mentions
harps and wicked people, and Adam did not play harps or contend with
wicked human beings. But the Midrash on the Psalms does not apply all
of the Psalm to Adam but contains applications of its contents to other
situations, as well.
E.W. Bullinger, who holds that Psalm 92 is
part of the Numbers book in Psalms (since it's in the fourth book, and
Bullinger interprets the division of books in the Psalms in light of the
books of the Pentateuch), inquires if Psalm 92 can relate to the stoning of the Sabbathbreaker in Numbers 15:32-41.
I suppose that can fit, in areas. The Sabbathbreaker could perhaps be
characterized as a brutish man (to draw from the KJV's rendering of
Psalm 92:6) who did not comprehend the depth of God's works, plus Psalm
92 is about the destruction of the wicked. But Psalm 92:11 says that
the wicked rise up against the Psalmist. Would that apply to the
Sabbathbreaker? Well, people rose up against Moses on a regular basis,
and perhaps one could argue that Moses thought that the stoning of the
Sabbathbreaker was part of God's larger judgment of Israel's rebellion
against God and God's authority structure.
A question that
came up in my reading was why the creation story in Genesis 1-2:3 says
that there was evening and morning for the days of creation, but not for
the Sabbath. The Midrash on the Psalms contains two ideas.
First, evening and morning are related to work, for people sleep in the
evening to prepare for work the next day. But, on the Sabbath, the
Israelites are not to be burdened with work. Second, the evening is a
time of darkness, and the Sabbath is a day of no darkness, or evil.
While that coincides with the message of Psalm 92 that God will defeat
the wicked, evening and morning are still in the Psalm, for the Psalmist
talks in v 2 about celebrating God every day and night.